Our contributor Aura McMenamin, spoke to various members of different political parties, including TD Paul Murphy, about the emergence of a new political left in Irish politics and their opinion on the increase of support for Sinn Fein.

The Irish are often criticised for not protesting enough, however the recent anti-austerity protests show a clear defiance, not ennui.

Is the younger generation ready to turn to a new party to end austerity, or will the 5,000 people that register to Irish Water daily continue to back the established parties?

"People are so disgusted with capitalism and what it has done; the idea of ‘if bankers go bust, you must pay off the debt and it stays a private entity'. To try and pass that off as for the benefit of everyone...people are starting to believe that that's not true."

Aprille Scully, 22, is a member of the Socialist Party. Although the party was a militant faction of Labour in the 70s, it broke away in 1989 and its anti-austerity stance on issues such Irish Water have given it a new surge in popularity.

"I think the Anti-Austerity Alliance has gained so much support because they're a grassroots movement. They've gained momentum because they're anti-establishment." 

Aprille studied business, economics and sociology in Trinity College. She says that most of the people in her course believed in conservative economics, with a few Labour supporters. So how did she find herself aligning with Socialist policies?

"Alienation," she says laughing. "No, I just disagreed. I did economics in secondary school and even then you're taught neo-liberalism. I just thought it was illogical and really wasteful."

The famous face of this movement is Paul Murphy, the 31 year-old TD from the AAA, a faction of the Socialist Party. From ripping up an Irish Water packet in the Dáil, to being stripped of his shirt by Gaurds during a protest frenzy in November, Murphy has been at the forefront of the new left's 'revolutionary' image.

Aside from inspiring the ire of Dublin commuters, Murphy has called on people to refuse consent to Irish Water applications as the main method of protest, at risk of being fined €40.

"It's slightly more expensive but we think it's worthwhile," he said. But what about further consequences? "The other thing they can do is pursue people through the courts, which is a simple contract debt. But it's an extremely long process. I think it's a hugely risky game politically," he added.

A Red C poll put the number of people who say they will refuse to pay at 35 per cent. Murphy admits that the number is not substantial: "It wouldn't be a bad start but I think it would be better at 40 or 45 per cent."

The Irish Independent reported this month that an average of 4,886 people register for the charges daily, which is double the figure before the charging structure was changed.

"I don't think we'll see a massive surge in the left direction, because I think Irish voters are inherently conservative," says Richard Curran, business journalist for the Irish Independent and host of RTE Radio One's The Business.

"But they're tapping into mistakes the Government has made. They're constantly putting pressure on the Government to show that they're listening to working class people. But I don't think we're going to see them have a direct policy influence."

Recent comments by Joan Burton about protesters having iPhones were accused of showing a Tory-brand of snobbery.

Sean Rooney is a member of Labour Youth. He admits that the narrative of the Labour Party's has been damaged.

"I don't disagree that there's been a lot of stupid comments by many of our TDs."

However, he still sees the value of Labour's trade union relationship: "I think when it comes to working class conditions, we can still get something done there."

 Despite working-class discontent, it's undeniable that Ireland is at the log stage of economic growth. Ireland was the fastest growing economy in the EU with a rate of 7.7 per cent in September.

Some students like Young Fine Gael member Andrew Ralph aren't caught up in the anti-establishment sentiment. The 18 year-old journalism student says: "The left clearly cannot deliver what the government has in the past three and a half years."

"The left believe in intensive spending and raising tax. I believe that the economy can only resurface to its pre-recessionary levels when people support that economy by themselves...economy empowerment as a result of low taxation."

Sean says some of the left's policies are 'bizarre'.

The Socialist Party's pre-budget submission was criticised for proposing to nationalise multinational companies, the likes of Dell and Google.

"Dell pulling out of Limerick caused devastation. The government operates on a system of sucking up to multinationals with grants and subsidies and now the 'knowledge box'," says Aprille.

"If we try to implement 40 per cent corporate tax on Google, they will leave Ireland. But the workers make the wealth for Google, therefore the workers should take control."

 But when asked how this could be implemented, Aprille smiles at the simplicity of the question: "A socialist revolution."

However, Andrew welcomes the idea of polarity in politics, something Ireland has not experienced with the two main parties being centre-right: "I think that Irish politics in general is completely topsy-turvy, for want of a better word.

"It's becoming like the Democrats and the Republicans in the US... It's about time we became a proper democracy with a strong left and strong right."

Along with this, Independent candidates have the largest base of support. The Irish Times/ Ipsos poll put support for them at 32 per cent. This pool is by no means just left-wing radicals.

"That sense of disillusionment runs right across the board. It's not just people in working-class areas or on the dole. There's also middle-of-the-road or middle-class people in Dublin," says Curran.

"You get people like Lucinda Creighton, who's not exactly a left-wing radical; you get Peter Matthews from a banking background with a very middle-class appeal; and Shane Ross who's been ex-Fine Gael for a long time and started off as a stockbroker."

There's talk of a Reform Alliance group made up of centre-right Independents like Lucinda Creighton and the other Fine Gael exiles. Creighton says she plans on forming a ten-year 'movement' that would dissolve after radically reforming Ireland.

Sean says a government made up of Independents will be unstable: "You have Shane Ross on one side, Mick Wallace and Clare Daly on the other. There's a wide divergence of views there. Media and commentators have been saying Independents are coherent, which they are not and will not be...People despise the party-whip but it brings a level of coherence."

It's probably telling that the most popular party in Ireland now is a familiar face, Sinn Fein. At 22 per cent approval in this month's Ipsos poll, the party has carved out a new identity as a left-wing party against water charges, but it'll be interesting to see Gerry Adams balance this with their classic Republican image.

"Sinn Fein appeal to various different factions. It'll be interesting how they merge the Ulster-based Republicanism vote with their inner-city left-wing vote," says Sean.

Aprille disagrees that the change is legitimate: "I think they claim to be left but I think their economic policies wouldn't be so. But it's quite symbolic that they're getting ahead. The idea twenty years ago that Sinn Fein would get power would shock people."

"We think the problem is that Sinn Fein is going down the road of Labour...they'll be willing to go into a coalition and compromise on important things to get there," says Murphy.